Belfast Telegraph

Newry woman Alma Brown (93) receives award from PM for festival work

Huge contribution: Alma Brown
Huge contribution: Alma Brown
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

One of Newry's best known figures in Irish cultural circles has been recognised for her huge contribution to the city's festival of music, dance and speech.

Alma Brown (93) has been a key figure with the Newry Musical Feis since 1961.

She has been instrumental in developing it into the second largest feis in the world.

This week, Alma was recognised for her contribution by Prime Minister Theresa May who made her a recent recipient of the Points of Light Award.

This is presented to volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.

This year's feis is taking place over 45 days - between February and May - supported by over 60 volunteers, and has received over 14,000 performance entries.

In a personal letter to congratulate Alma, Mrs May wrote: "The continuing success of the Newry Musical Feis is testament to your long-standing dedication to supporting your local community and enabling young people to flourish through the performing arts. I wish you every success with this year's event."

Alma modestly said the award was for all the volunteers associated with Newry Musical Feis past and present.

She said: "I am pleased to receive this award not so much for myself but for all the section secretaries, committee members and other volunteers without whom Newry Musical Feis would not be celebrating its 91st anniversary in 2019.

"I am delighted that it has grown to become the largest festival of its kind in the UK.

"Over the years it has been gratifying to follow the successful careers of many of our talented young performers."

Alma added: "One of my biggest joys was to introduce, for the first time in a festival, a performance class for children with special needs."

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